Silly Stanford

I started work at the Los Altos History Museum on Monday, which is a few miles away from Stanford University. Stanford used to have a professor of Old Norse literature, and a very distinguished one at that. But about a decade ago that went poof! And they have never replaced the position.

So I guess I'll be going to Berkeley for Old Norse lectures.

Tím breyting

I don't know when the clocks will officially spring forward, but for me it's two weeks from now, when I start my new job. I'm saying goodbye to academia, and to Scandinavian studies, for awhile at least, working on my leadership and management skills, as well as exhibit skills, at a dedicated museum. Should be a good change, and I'm happy and excited to be getting back to California, and back to my son. I've been away too long.

I've been happy and confident and relaxed about beginning a new phase of my life, although tonight I feel a bit melancholy. I guess the part about not having any professional reason to go to Iceland ever again is kind of weird for me. I was realizing last night that as I fall asleep, I'm often visualizing myself wandering alone around the streets of Reykjavík. I spent a lot of time doing that when I lived in Iceland, and some of the time I was crying. As I am now.

Day 8

Well it is 8 days into the Trump administration, and it already feels like years. Years living in some sort of bizarre alternative reality. Things are not unfolding as I would have wanted them to, not by a long shot, for the country as a whole. Day to day for me personally, life goes on as if none of this madness in Washington matters. But it does matter. Immigrants stopped at the airport, subjected to confusing interrogations. Our international obligations to care for families and the environment, to expand economic opportunity, tossed out the window. Wow, it is just so dumbfoundingly stupefying. The waste of it all, watching potential evaporate minute by minute, but in slow motion, as if it were taking days, weeks, months and years. And having no way to turn back the hands of time, to undo this disaster. Under Obama, it seemed the emerging global world was on the verge of environmental and economic responsibility and justice. I miss that feeling. And I'm sad it was all so epheme…

A new administration

It is Day 5 living within the new administration. And I just finished reading Mostly Harmless, the fifth in a trilogy by Douglas Adams. It seems apropos, in this world of "alternative facts." 

What we have learned so far is that the media, whose function in a democracy had been very robust, is now relegated to only saying nice, friendly, positive things. Under the new administration, dissent is not popular or appreciated. But congratulations will be accepted.

Ah yes, Mostly Harmless. I just found out that my oldest brother, Billy, who passed away while I was living in Iceland, was a huge fan of Douglas Adams. His birthday was on Sunday, and I lit a candle for him at church. I don't know if his soul is anywhere in particular these days, or if prayers can do anything to rescue lost souls, but I do hope he is resting in peace. When he was alive, he brought much joy into our lives.

And no matter what, the planet is going to be removed by the Vogons soon enough.

Teaching Old Norse in North America

Today there was another "terrorist attack" at a university in the United States. A young man from Somalia drove his car into a crowd of people, then jumped out and stabbed several others with a knife before the police shot him. Using one's car as a weapon appears to be a new terrorist tactic, at least it is similar to what was done in Paris over Bastille Day. And he's Muslim; he'd been quoted in the school paper saying how hard it was for Muslims to find a place to pray at the university a few months earlier.

A friend of mine works at The Ohio State University, where this attack took place. She and I went to Berkeley together, we both studied Old Norse. She wrote her dissertation on the figure of Odinn as a "guest" in several different genres of Old Norse literature. She's more of a folklorist, interested in the subconscious and symbolic, whereas I am more interested in human-material interactions. I felt really bad for her today, what a terrible th…

Gimli, Manitoba

This summer I took my son to Icelandic Camp in Gimli Manitoba. It was my first time in "New Iceland". I had an amazing time and met some very nice people - even went sailing out on Lake Winnipeg with two sisters raised in the area that spoke Icelandic as their first language. It was really fun hearing their dialect, slightly different than modern Icelandic. That, plus the Icelandic flags, vineterta in the bakeries, and murals depicting the Icelandic settlers arriving all made me feel like I was somehow in Iceland. There was even a pub in town called the Ship and Plow I went to one night, with a huge Icelandic flag signed by all the people who had been at the pub to watch the Icelandic national team defeat England in the Euro Cup. It was like I'd found an Iceland I could drive to!

But then I started to notice a few things. Like the fact that the camp was at the Ukrainian park, and that the chef was Ukrainian, not Icelandic. And at the pub, I didn't meet any Icelanders…

Been a while

So, I haven't blogged in a while, or been keeping up with the Icelandic news much. But I must say I am a bit pleased that US politics aren't the only ones in a bizarre post-election limbo land. The Icelandic situation of not being able to form a coalition government is intriguing. How long until a government is formed, and will the resulting cabinet be as mish-mash-apple-sauce as whatever blob is emerging from Trump Tower? I don't know, but I am morbidly curious to witness this slow train wreck.

I was looking back through some old blogs, and discovered it was in August of 2015 that I posted about why Donald Trump might just become the next President of the United States. How very weird that looks to be what is actually happening. It still does not feel real.

And there are still several scenarios that might stop it from ever really happening, such as a recount effort in several key swing states, the threat of some rogue Electoral College delegates switching sides, and of c…